Playing in front of their home crowd, the Tritons raced out to a 12-1 lead and never looked back, cruising to their third win over the Wildcats in as many games this season. Daisy Feder, Emily Osga and Chelsea Carlisle combined to score 58 points as UCSD shot 48% from the field and connected on 7-of-14 from behind the three-point line in the win.
The Tritons improve to 29-2 and advance to face No. 4 seed Western Washington in the West Regional Semifinals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Vikings (22-7) defeated fifth-seeded Cal State Monterey Bay, 65-58, earlier in the day.
Chico State, which had won six of its last seven coming in, wraps up its season at 18-11 overall.
"We're just excited and glad to get this one under our belt," head coach Charity Elliott said. "We knew Chico would come out and battle as they always do, but we prepared all week and we were ready to play. What I loved tonight was our energy and our intensity on both sides of the floor. I'm really excited to play again tomorrow."
Feder had a night to remember, finishing with game-highs of 24 points and eight rebounds, while also dishing out four assists and coming up with four steals. The Santa Monica native finished 8-of-13 from the floor and sank 8-of-9 from the free throw line to reach the 20-point plateau for the fourth consecutive game.
"We were really hungry coming off last week's loss," she said. "I just wanted to be aggressive and my teammates set me up really well."
Osga finished with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting to go with five boards and four assists, while Carlisle totaled 16 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
The Tritons' starting backcourt finished a combined 22-of-42 in the game, 52%.
Annie Ward scored 13 points off the bench to lead four players in double figures for the Wildcats. McKenzie Dalthrop finished with 12 points, while Crystal Sewell added 11 and Jazmine Miller chipped in with 10.
After suffering their first home loss of the season in the CCAA Tournament Semifinals last week, the Tritons were eager to get back on the court and redeem themselves and it showed on Friday. UCSD scored the first seven points of the game and led 10-1 following back-to-back threes from Carlisle just over a minute later.
The Tritons held a 14-2 advantage before the Wildcats finally came up with their first field goal of game at the 12:48 mark of the first half.
Despite the slow start, Chico State was able to trim the deficit to seven on five occasions in the opening period, with the last coming on a triple by Ward that made it 27-20 with six and a half minutes left. UCSD followed with consecutive jumpers from Osga and McKennan Bertsch and then Carlisle drained another three to double the Triton advantage at 34-20.
The Tritons continued to pour it on, pushing the lead to 20 at 46-26 following a three-point play from Feder with 1:18 remaining in the half.
The Wildcats scored six of the first seven points of the second period to pull within 48-34, but UCSD quickly eliminated any chances of a CSUC comeback, scoring 13 unanswered over the next three and a half minutes to take its biggest lead of the night, 61-34.
The Triton's lead would not dip below 17 points the rest of the way.
UCSD finished 31-of-64 from the field, while Chico State shot 25-of-59, 42%. The Tritons outscored the Wildcats 30-14 in the paint and racked up 25 points off 19 turnovers from the visitors.
UCSD and Western Washington will meet for the second time this season when the two teams clash in the second round on Saturday. The Tritons defeated the Vikings by a final margin of 79-60 at the CCAA/GNAC Shootout back in November.
"We faced Western very, very early this year and we've played them enough times in the past to have an idea of their system," Elliott said. "These kids are such great, quick learners and they are able to really process and apply the things that we want to do. We'll be ready."
UCSD, which entered the NCAA Tournament ranked fourth in this week's USA Today/ESPN Division II Coaches Poll, will be making its first appearance in the West Regional Semifinals since 2009 on Saturday.